Big Ten: Senior Bowl
Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short was named Most Outstanding Player for the North squad, which fell 21-16 to the South in Mobile, Ala. Short recorded three tackles, including a tackle for loss and another stop for no gain. He helped limit the North team to 105 rush yards and just seven points in the final three and a half quarters.
Short drew mixed reviews during the practice week, as observers noted his tremendous ability but also pointed out that he would take plays off. The comparisons between Short and Michigan State defensive end Jerel Worthy from last year are undeniable. Worthy also had first-round talent but also a reputation of taking some plays off. Ultimately, Worthy was a second-round pick of the Green Bay Packers last April. Whether Short works his way into the first round remains to be seen, but he certainly helped his cause Saturday.
Another Big Ten defensive tackle, Penn State's Jordan Hill, delivered a good performance in the game, recording three tackles, including 1.5 for loss and half a sack.
Other Big Ten notables:
- Illinois DE Michael Buchanan recorded four tackles and blocked a 52-yard field goal attempt by Florida State standout Dustin Hopkins in the second quarter.
- Michigan's Denard Robinson played wide receiver and recorded two receptions for 21 yards and one rush for minus-3 yards. Robinson's transition from quarterback to receiver is off to a rocky start , but he set the baseline this week and can make strides before the draft.
- Wisconsin tackle Ricky Wagner and Illinois guard Hugh Thornton both started along the offensive line for the North team, which rushed for only 45 yards but found a rhythm in the second half.
Big Ten players factored in all the scoring for the North squad. Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson and Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins both fired touchdown passes, and Purdue kicker Carson Wiggs connected on three field goal attempts, including a 28-yarder that helped seal the win with 4:11 left. The North starting offensive line featured four of five players from the Big Ten.
Other than Illinois receiver A.J. Jenkins and Illinois left tackle Jeff Allen, all of the Big Ten players in the game competed for the North squad.
Wilson started for the North and led three offensive series, two of which resulted in points. He finished the game 4 of 7 passing for 45 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Cousins was the third quarterback from the North squad to see the field and fired a 41-yard touchdown pass to Arizona State's Gerell Robinson early in the third quarter. Cousins finished the game 5 of 11 passing for 115 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Wiggs connected on field goal attempts of 27, 28 and 32 yards and missed a 37-yard try in the closing minutes.
Other Big Ten notables:
- Michigan State safety Trenton Robinson had two tackles and a fumble recovery
- Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey had a 33-yard reception
- Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David had four tackles
- Penn State defensive end Jack Crawford had three tackles
- Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin had three tackles
- Illinois wideout A.J. Jenkins had a 26-yard reception
- Michigan State tight end Brian Linthicum had a 9-yard reception
- Penn State cornerback D'Anton Lynn had two tackles
- Wisconsin punter Brad Nortman averaged 43.7 yards on three attempts and also had one kickoff, while Wiggs had five kickoffs.
- Ohio State running back Dan Herron had six carries for 14 yards and two receptions for 4 yards
- Wisconsin long-snapper Kyle Wojta had one tackle
- Wisconsin fullback Bradie Ewing had one carry for 1 yard
North team starters included: Wilson, Ewing, Linthicum, Ohio State left tackle Mike Adams, Ohio State center Mike Brewster, Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler, Penn State guard Johnnie Troutman, Crawford, Martin and Robinson. Jenkins and Allen both came off the bench for the South squad.
ESPN Scouts Inc. Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl write that the North team quarterbacks had good performances Tuesday (Insider). While Boise State's Kellen Moore was the best of the bunch, Michigan State's Kirk Cousins and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson both showed strong arm strength.
Wilson "competed hard as the day went on and made some good throws to Ohio State's DeVier Posey during seven-on-seven drills." Cousins throws a "crisp ball" and displayed some touch on a deep pass to fellow Big Tenner Marvin McNutt from Iowa. The Scouts Inc. crew noted that Cousins must do a better job of deciding when to ease up on his throws, as one of his bullets was intercepted.
Other Big Ten nuggets:
- McNutt had a good day for the most part, showing the ability to shake off press coverage.
- The Scouts Inc. crew said Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard struggled as he tries to maintain a first-round grade.
- There was good news and bad news for Ohio State's offensive linemen in Mobile. Tackle Mike Adams showed "good athleticism and doing a good job climbing to the second level to cut off defenders." Center Mike Brewster, meanwhile, "had trouble sinking his hips to anchor against inside rushers, and because he often played with his head down Brewster had trouble staying in front of defenders."
- Wisconsin offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler reportedly had an up-and-down day but showed good recovery ability against rushers.
More to come from the Senior Bowl on Wednesday.
Both teams are currently going through their first practice session, and colleague Todd McShay has previewed what should be an interesting week leading up to the premier pre-draft all-star game.
Twenty-one Big Ten players are participating in the game, 20 for the North squad and one, Illinois tackle Jeff Allen, for the South squad.
Penn State DT Devon Still and Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard are among the 11 Senior Bowl participants who McShay projects as first-round picks in April's NFL draft. He writes that Still is a bit overrated athletically and needs a strong week to solidify himself in the first round. Dennard, meanwhile, needs a big week for a different reason after being ejected from the Capital One Bowl for fighting with South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery.
Michigan State's Kirk Cousins and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson are among the quarterbacks looking to answer questions this week in Mobile. While Cousins has terrific intangibles, McShay writes, he must also display the physical skills to excel in the NFL. Wilson's biggest obstacle is one he can't really control -- his height (he measured 5 feet, 10 and a half inches Monday).
McShay also lists two Ohio State players -- WR DeVier Posey and OT Mike Adams -- among those with something to prove this week. Both men were part of the Tat-5 and missed significant chunks of their senior season because of suspension. Posey must show the "ball skills and suddenness in his routes" to merit a Day 2 draft selection, while Adams has to address questions about his toughness and overall strength.
It should be an interesting week in Mobile, and we'll provide plenty of updates.
This is a very unfortunate mishap for Schofield, who had improved his draft stock after a strong showing last week during the East-West Shrine Game in Orlando. The Badgers star stood out in practice as he transitioned from defensive end to linebacker, and he earned defensive MVP honors in the game after recording an interception and three tackles. Colleague Todd McShay wrote extensively about Schofield during Shrine Game prep last week.
“Schofield could have taken the easy way out at the East West Shrine game by spending most of his time at defensive end, doing what he does best -- rush the passer," McShay said. "Instead, he opted for on-the-job training at linebacker in front of hundreds of NFL coaches and scouts. There were some bumps in the road early on but by week's end Schofield was playing at a higher level than any other linebacker in that all-star game. In my opinion, the mental toughness, competitiveness and versatility shown by Schofield was enough to elevate his draft stock to the third-round range."
Schofield was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2009 after recording 24.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. He ranked second nationally in tackles for loss behind Michigan's Brandon Graham and tied for sixth in sacks.
NFL teams that play the 3-4 should continue to look at Schofield as an outside linebacker, though this type of injury will limit his availability in 2010.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
As was the case throughout the 2008 season, the Big Ten took a backseat to other conferences in the Under Armour Senior Bowl.
The South team beat the North, 35-18, and no Big Ten players were involved in the scoring for the North squad. But there were some bright spots for the Big Ten in the nation's premier postseason all-star showcase.
- Ohio State linebacker Marcus Freeman recorded a game-high eight tackles for the North team. As teammate James Laurinaitis sat out the game, Freeman likely improved his pro stock with a solid effort.
- Penn State wide receiver/return man Derrick Williams racked up a game-high 124 all-purpose yards. Williams had 89 yards on three kickoff returns, including a 44-yard burst. He also had an 11-yard punt return, caught two passes for 19 yards and had a five-yard carry. Williams' speed and versatility certainly will help his cause on draft day.
- Purdue running back Kory Sheets had a team-high seven carries for 31 rushing yards. He also notched the game's longest kickoff return, a 61-yarder in the fourth quarter, and caught four passes out of the backfield. Filling in for injured Michigan State star Javon Ringer, Sheets finally got some national exposure after being overlooked on a poor Purdue team this fall.
- Ohio State wide receiver Brian Robiskie finished as the game's No. 2 receiver with 47 yards on three receptions.
- Iowa defensive tackle Mitch King had four tackles and a quarterback hurry in the game, while Michigan defensive end Tim Jamison had three stops and Purdue defensive end Alex Magee recorded an assisted tackle.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Michigan State's Javon Ringer won't be participating in the Under Armour Senior Bowl later this month, but the Big Ten running back fraternity still will be represented in Mobile, Ala.
Purdue running back Kory Sheets will replace Ringer in the game. Senior Bowl public relations director Kevin McDermond said an injury issue prevented Ringer from participating.
Sheets was originally scheduled to play in the East-West Shrine Game but now will shift his focus to the Senior Bowl on Jan. 24 (NFL Network, 7 p.m. ET). He finished fifth in the Big Ten in rushing (94.2 yards per game) and fourth in scoring (8.5 points per game).
Boilermakers defensive tackle Alex Magee also reportedly will play in the Senior Bowl. The Big Ten's official list will be announced Thursday.
Also, Michigan State confirmed that safety Otis Wiley will not play in the Shrine Game as he takes some extra time to rest.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The Under Armour Senior Bowl is a can't-miss stop for NFL talent evaluators, and the Big Ten will be well represented Jan. 24 in Mobile, Ala.
Here's a list of Big Ten players known to be competing in the game.